Australian Precision Technology has grown from having a single machine manufacturing spectacle screws to being a major producer of precision components and assemblies, utilising the latest CNC technology and manufacturing software.
At one time, APT was the preferred supplier for automotive components manufacturer Robert Bosch, which accounted for 86 per cent of its turnover. But like many suppliers faced with the imminent closure of the local car manufacturing industry, APT needed to diversify into other areas: in its case, the defence industry.
Now, APT supplies a diverse range of specialised components to leading defence industry companies, including parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Steyer rifle, radar systems, remote weapon stations, submarines and munitions. It also supplies a variety of products to customers in the electronics and security industries.
APT Managing Director Richard Weinzierl says that the assistance of the Centre for Defence Industry Capability and its Supplier Continuous Improvement Programme (SCIP) has been a crucial part of his company’s success.
“The SCIP programme gave us the tools we needed to ensure we moved successfully into the defence arena,” he says. “The business coaching, which included the development of a strategic plan and staff engagement programs, really has been the key to our success and transformed the business.
“We have also been fortunate to be the recipient of a number of government grants, which has greatly assisted the transition and our continued expansion.”
For its part, APT has dedicated significant resources to ensure their processes and operations meet the stringent requirements of the defence industry, including increased security and putting a cyber security plan in place.
“My wife Nicola has also been a key driving force in our transition and success, and my daughter (a project management graduate) has joined us recently in a support role,” he says. “This will ensure APT remains a family focused business.”
The ‘one large family’ theme is clearly evident with the commitment and support he has for his staff of thirty, reflected in APT’s core values of teamwork, honesty and value.
APT was the first company to purchase Lang Technik workholding products in Australia, initially direct from the manufacturer in Germnay and more recently from Dimac, which took over the sales and distribution of Lang products in Australia and New Zealand.
“One of the key benefits of Lang Technik is their patented Quick Point zero-point clamping system,” Weinzierl says. “This allows for a one-time installation – once the base plate is mounted and aligned to the machine tool table and the zero point is defined you can build workpieces and fixtures quickly and accurately. This provides a huge boost to productivity, reducing changeover time from 1 or 2 hours to five minutes.
“The zero point system is super fast and accurate, which is essential given the nature of our work. We use Lang vices on all our milling machines – the quality is first class. Their Makro-Grip 5-axis vices are the perfect solution for all challenging clamping tasks and are simply unbeatable in 5-sided manufacturing.
“The flexibility of Lang vices are another key benefit. Because it’s an easy-to-use modular system, we can swap vices around machines easily and quickly knowing that the quality and accuracy will be the same.
“We also use Lang’s Makro-Grip stamping technology. This stamping technology, also called pre-stamping, involves the workpiece being stamped outside of the machine tool with up to 20 tons of hydraulic pressure, providing the highest holding power for 5-face machining worldwide. Makro-Grip stamping technology provides tremendous material savings due to minimal clamping edge requirements.”
APT also uses another unique product in the Lang Technik range, the cleaning fan. This automatically cleans the machine table, pallet and/or workpieces after the machining process is complete, saving time and reducing workload.
APT has had a close association with Dimac for more than 20 years.
“Dimac’s service and advice is second to none,” Weinzierl says. “It’s fantastic – we can ring up and have stock delivered same day and crucially they hold stock for us, which is very helpful. Without the support of Dimac our CNC machines just wouldn’t run. They’re a one-stop shop. Everything that we need to support our production we buy through Dimac.”
In addition to Lang Technik products, APT also purchases other products through Dimac, including Mitee-Bite workholding tools, Dimac’s own Australian-made soft jaws and high-pressure coolant equipment.
APT is currently working towards gaining ISO 9100D accreditation, which will open up new markets including the aerospace industry, and is already in discussion with a number of leading companies in this specialised sector.
Given the expertise and knowledge that APT has, its main focus will continue to be defence, but other markets such as renewable energy are likely to be part of its portfolio in the future. However, one thing’s for sure: APT will continue to be a leader in precision manufacturing far into the future.
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